We may have gone to a monthly format for print, but our digital approach is all about the here and now. We may have gone to a monthly format for print, but our digital approach is all about the here and now.By Walter Pierce
When we decided over the summer to pull the trigger on the monthly magazine format I thought, "Hmmm, one paper per month instead of four or five? That sounds easy."
I've wised up.
Putting out a monthly paper takes considerably more than a quarter of the energy and organizational skills to publish a weekly, and organizational skill is not the most lethal arrow in my quiver. But the real rub is, we're not just a monthly magazine now and haven't been for a long time; we're a daily media company. More so than ever.
As we promised when we announced the launch of IND Monthly, this change in format wasn't so much about cutting back on the volume in your recycling bin; it's really been about monopolizing your bandwidth. Our web traffic surpassed our print circulation more than a year ago, and as the number of readers getting their content from TheInd.com began to pull away from circ, the evitable became inevitable.
Our aim is to make TheInd.com a daily destination, and we're doing it in several ways. Fresh local content is the most obvious, coupled with increasing the variety of that content to include more lifestyle coverage. But we've also added new features to attract you to the site and keep you engaged - features we've introduced without nearly enough ballyhoo.
So here's some fanfare.
In the middle of October we rolled out "La.La. Land." Subtitled "Blogs from the Bog," it's the very best, strangest, most outlandish and keenly prescient writing from the Louisiana blogosphere - from both sides of the political aisle. It's in a box on the upper right side of the home page - just a snappy headline with a precious, often snarky description of the blog bristling with that annoying editorializing you've come to expect from The Ind. Click on the headline and it brings you to the source.
It's compiled each Monday through Friday morning bright and early by Angie Simoneaux. You might remember Angie as a former spokeswoman for the Lafayette Parish School System, but before that she had a long, successful turn as a first-rate reporter for The Advocate's Acadiana bureau. She's working on her master's thesis in communications at UL right now, so fortunately she has a little extra time on her hands and can work for us. We pay her in cigarettes and wine coolers. I'm kidding. But, honestly, this is real symbiosis: We want the content, and Angie is a voracious reader who is now earning something south of a king's ransom to do what she already does every morning anyway. That she seems to be channeling her inner Molly Ivins is pure serendipity.
Another change at TheInd.com, one we hope you've noticed, is the addition of Associated Press content. This is a significant development for this former alt weekly. Until recently, AP content was the domain of daily newspapers and television stations, which pay a premium for membership in the news co-op. AP members feed their local stories to the agency, which has bureaus around the world and shares locally generated content among its members. If there's a big story in Lafayette that is of interest to editors in Dallas, Phoenix or Winona, Minn., those papers can rely on the reporting from local AP members The Daily Advertiser and The Advocate. And vice versa: the Advertiser needn't have a bureau in New Orleans; it can rely on stories fed into the AP wire by The Times-Picayune.
But the AP, like newspapers in general and especially the dailies, has felt the sting of the digital calamity that hit newspapers a decade ago as readers and classified advertising migrated to the Web and traditional print advertisers like car dealerships and furniture stores began abandoning ship in favor of less 20th-century ways of reaching potential customers.
As a result, AP opened up its content to non-dailies like us. The content we receive isn't generated by AP member papers like the Advertiser or The New York Times. But the Associated Press has a crackerjack stable of reporters around the world and here in Louisiana - Melinda Deslatte and Cain Burdeau, to name just a couple covering the Bayou State - who do generate great, in-depth reporting, content now available at TheInd.com.
We'll be rolling out more digital initiatives over the next several weeks. One digital trend we will be bucking, however, is forcing you to buy a subscription for our online content. TheInd.com is free. We plan to keep it that way. Until we change our minds.